Momentum is often tomorrow’s starting pitcher and sometimes all you need is a change of scenery to turn your fortunes around. The Nationals traveled west last Thursday with the considerable baggage of an eight-game losing streak where they had been outscored 49-16.
But somehow they took two of three from NL West-leading San Francisco and posted their second series win of the season. The bats came alive with 14 runs Friday and 11 more on Sunday (they scored 28 runs in three games after being held to 16 over the previous eight). And after finishing under .500 in April for the third straight season, they’re 1-0 in May.
Digesting the Division- the New York Mets (16-7) took two of three from Philadelphia with Max Scherzer striking out nine in Sunday night’s win over the Phillies. Max is now 4-0 with an ERA of 2.38 and is averaging 8.4 strikeouts per start. Miami (12-9) swept up the standings with five wins in six games (three coming in Washington against the Nationals). Jazz Chizzholm Jr. leads the Marlins with four homers and 15 RBI. Philadelphia (11-12) lost two of three to the New York Mets to slip under .500. For those keeping track, the Phillies haven’t been over .500 since April 11. Atlanta (10-13) is in fourth place after dropping two straight to Texas as pitching remains a problem (the Braves’ ERA of 4.13 ranks 22ns in MLB). The last-place Nationals (8-16) now stand two and a half games out of fourth place.
Break up the Birds- taking two of three from fourth place Boston will put some wind in your sails. While the Orioles remain in last place, they’re getting decent efforts when they’re not committing five errors as they did in their series finale with the New York Yankees Thursday. Anthony Santander had the best April of any of the bats, leading the team in homers and RBI while ranking second on the squad in runs scored.
Last Week’s Heroes- Victor Robles batted .500 while scoring and driving in five runs. Juan Soto hit .318 while leading the team with seven runs scored. Yadiel Hernandez batted .350 while notching a team-high six RBI. Lucius Fox recorded his first Major League hit. Josiah Gray went 1-1 while striking out 13 over 11.2 innings. Relievers Steve Cishek and Andres Machado posted multiple outings without allowing an earned run.
Last Week’s Humbled- Joan Adon allowed four runs in four-plus innings while Victor Arano posted an ERA of 15.43 (Kyle Finnegan and Sam Clay were dangerously close to double-digit ERAs out of the bullpen). Lane Thomas batted .200 and struck out in 50% of his at-bats, not ideal for a potential leadoff hitter. Nelson Cruz hit .087 (2-for-23), not ideal for a guy hitting anywhere in the lineup but especially one in the third or fourth spot.
Game to Watch- Saturday night Josiah Gray pitches against the Los Angeles Angels, who will start Michael Lorenzen (8.1 innings tossed in a win over the Chicago White Sox Sunday). I’m curious to see how Gray will fare against the likes of former MVP Mike Trout and reigning MVP Shohei Ohtani, and I’m also intrigued in seeing former Nats third baseman Anthony Rendon. The 9:07 first pitch allows one to catch the Capitals in their afternoon game against Florida while still enjoying the Kentucky Derby.
Game to Miss- Tuesday the Nats begin a series in Colorado against the best-hitting team (their .261 batting average leads MLB) in the big leagues with Erick Fedde (6.00 ERA) pitching against German Marquez (5.57 ERA). They’re also going up against Capitals-Florida Game One. All eyes are on the ice.
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